Impact of heavy metals on the oil products biodegradation process

Waste Manag Res. 2008 Dec;26(6):500-7. doi: 10.1177/0734242X08089838.


Oil products continue to be used as a principal source of energy. Wide-scale production, transport, global use and disposal of petroleum have made them major contaminants in prevalence and quantity in the environment. In accidental spills, actions are taken to remove or remediate or recover the contaminants immediately, especially if they occur in environmentally sensitive areas, for example, in coastal zones. Traditional methods to cope with oil spills are confined to physical containment. Biological methods can have an advantage over the physical-chemical treatment regimes in removing spills in situ as they offer biodegradation of oil fractions by the micro-organisms. Recently, biological methods have been known to play a significant role in bioremediation of oil-polluted coastal areas. Such systems are likely to be of significance in the effective management of sensitive coastal ecosystems chronically subjected to oil spillage. For this reason the aim of this paper is to present an impact of Mn, Cu, Co and Mo quantities on oil biodegradation effectiveness in coastal soil and to determine the relationship between metal concentrations and degradation of two oil products (black oil and diesel fuel). Soil was collected in the Baltic Sea coastal zone oil products degradation area (Klaipeda, Lithuania). The experiment consisted of two parts: study on the influence of micro-elements on the oil product biodegradation process; and analysis of the influence of metal concentration on the number of HDMs. The analysis performed and results obtained address the following areas: impact of metal on a population of hydrocarbon degrading micro-organisms, impact of metals on residual concentrations of oil products, influence of metals on the growth of micro-organisms, inter-relation of metal concentrations with degradation rates. Statistical analysis was made using ;Statgraphics plus' software. The influence of metals on the growth of micro-organisms, the biodegradation process rate and the oil product concentrations were evaluated with analysis of variance. The impact has been investigated separately and synergetically.

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Metals, Heavy / adverse effects*
  • Petroleum / metabolism*
  • Soil / analysis
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Time Factors


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Petroleum
  • Soil